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Contraflow installed on M20 as Operation Brock launched ahead of Brexit

By Chris Price

A new system of queuing lorries on the M20 is being tested out from today in preparation for potential delays at the Port of Dover caused by Brexit.

HGVs are being put on the coastbound stretch between junctions 8 for Maidstone and 9 for Ashford, with all other traffic using the London-bound carriagway.

There are two lanes in each direction and a 50 mile per hour speed limit.

Operation Stack, the predecessor of Operation Brock, was brought in place earlier this month on the M20 due to Storm Gareth. Picture: Andy Jones
Operation Stack, the predecessor of Operation Brock, was brought in place earlier this month on the M20 due to Storm Gareth. Picture: Andy Jones

Highways England want to make sure the Operation Brock is ready before Britain leaves the EU, which is expected to happen on either April 12 or M22, depending on whether MPs back the Prime Minister's Brexit deal this week.

Heidi Skinner, a policy and public affairs manager at the Freight Transport Association, based in Tunbridge Wells, said lorry businesses will take the the contraflow system in their stride - and are more concerned about what Britain's future relationship with Europe will look like.

Operation Stack, the predecessor of Operation Brock, was brought in place earlier this month on the M20 due to Storm Gareth. Picture: Andy Jones
Operation Stack, the predecessor of Operation Brock, was brought in place earlier this month on the M20 due to Storm Gareth. Picture: Andy Jones

She said: "We need more clarity around customs procedures and border readiness - all of these things - to ensure freight flows as seamlessly and frictionlessly as it does today."

Watch how Kent commuters are brace themselves for traffic delays as Operation Brock starts

Graphic (8073130)
Graphic (8073130)

Operation Brock is a modification of Operation Stack, which was brought in earlier this month for the first time in four years as Storm Gareth caused disruption at the Port of Dover.

But Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke said: "This is not a solution. A contraflow system should be better at keeping traffic flowing when there are delays – but I have serious concerns.

“It is yet another section of the M20 with a reduced speed limit. The coastbound side is now 30mph and for freight only, which is pointless during normal conditions.

“Meanwhile using Manston Airport is a bad idea. It’s a long way from the port and lorries will be expected to use single lane carriageways to get there.

“That’s why this project is just kicking the can down the motorway. I want to see proper investment – in lorry parks and a dualled A2. It’s been needed for years, regardless of Brexit."
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